In the wake of the Roots phenomenon, two plaintiffs accused Haley of that given his extensive and often unannotated note-taking, he had accidentally used material from author Harold Courlander's book The African (1968). Critics also questioned Haley's method of presenting fiction as fact. Haley, however, repeatedly defended his methods as a necessary way of tapping the emotional poignancy of his subject. (Source: [1])

  • Alex Haley acknowleged that a large section of his historical novel Roots - including the plot, main character and scores of whole passages - was lifted from "The African," a 1967 novel by Hal Courlander.

I have major problems with the reference since it comes from a web site ( which also includes an essay from David Duke about Jews, Communism, and Civil Rights.

I removed this:

...but it does bring up some points that might be worth saying something about. Maybe something about works like Wikipedia not making any particular claim of authorship, and works like the CIA factbook being intended for copying, or about plagiarism only applying to creative works and not mere collections of facts, etc.

Oops! I might have chosen a BAD SOURCE for the Alex Haley thing. I cited thinking the URL indicated a website devoted to Martin Luther King. Apparently, it's an anti-MLK site promoting David Duke. I will have to double check everything I wrote about Alex Haley now.

I hate it when I get fooled -- I'm too trusting, I guess. :-( --Ed Poor

So, is the Martin Luther King accusation that is in the article supported or not? --Shallot 22:39, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Plagiarism has to do with passing another's work as your own - nothing to do wi whether the information is in public domain or otherwise not "copyrightable" - As a writer I *should* attribute my sources even though there is no legal liability for failure to do so. So if I use information from World Factbook I should let the reader know so they (1) can determine the source and (2) check the information.


it is funny how easy/often it is to fidn plagiarism on the internet. especially in domain-specific topics, perhaps gardening information or plant information. frequently entire pages will be copied with little or no change, no credit given, etc.

Plagiarism is not illegal

The current article has one or two inaccuracies. Unfortunately the first sentence is wrong - plagiarism is not illegal. In fact, plagiarism is not recognised in law. Copyright and Intellectual Property are legal terms - not plagiarism. I'll edit the article when I have time.

Is this worth mentioning?

Both my high school and the english _and_ computer science departments on my university have the following policy: If you copy someone else's full text (or, in the latter case, any non-trivial amount of code) with proper credit given, you will receive a zero on the assignment. If you fail to give proper credit, you will also (in the case of my high school, receive a warning and ultimately risk failing the class or being suspended, or, at university: ) be referred to the office of the dean of students - How prevalent is this attitude and is it worth mentioning? --Random832 08:35, 2004 Jun 14 (UTC)

influenced by someone's ideas

If I read about someone else's idea, and am influenced by that idea, but I write something that is quite my own work, is it considered plagiarism?

Removing this:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. plagiarized his doctoral thesis and other works

On the ground that it doesn't mention the plagiarised sources and offers no reference to corroborate the claim. Someone put it back in if it can be substantiated. --JRM 12:03, 2004 Oct 30 (UTC)